Photo: Downtown Seattle Association


By Amanda Castleman

Don’t let the winter chill keep you from getting festive in the Emerald City. Here are four ways to celebrate the holidays and greet the new year in the great outdoors.

Photo: Downtown Seattle Association

Photo: Downtown Seattle Association

Westlake Center Tree Lighting

Join revelers in the heart of downtown on November 25 for one of the city’s iconic holiday traditions. After the annual Macy’s Holiday Parade—featuring 250 seasonal characters and, of course, Santa dashing in his sleigh—make your way to Westlake Center, where the plaza outside is transformed into a winter wonderland of live entertainment and family fun. The day’s festivities culminate in the holiday tree lighting ceremony at 5pm, when a massive Christmas tree in front of the shopping center is illuminated with twinkling lights. A spectacular fireworks display caps off the dazzling day.

Magic in the Market Holiday Celebration

On November 26, Pike Place Market ushers in the holiday season with a jam-packed day of festivities. Meet Santa and take free photos with him under the historic market clock (11am to 5pm), then enjoy the sweet sounds of caroling choirs throughout the day. Stock up on handmade gifts, fresh wreaths, and seasonal food from local craftspeople and farmers, or enjoy a cup of fresh cider or hot cocoa to stay toasty as you shop the market’s hundreds of stalls and storefronts. Families with kids 12 and younger can also decorate gingerbread cookies in the Atrium Kitchen. At 5pm, help Santa count down as a 20-foot-tall tree and holiday displays light up throughout the market. The fun continues throughout December with live jazz music and holiday cooking demos on Saturdays.

Photo: Shari Bradbury

Photo: Shari Bradbury

Howlidays in the Square

Dress up your four-legged friends and dash over to Pioneer Square to get in on the howliday spirit, December 10 from 11am to 3pm. This free, family-friendly event at Occidental Park features a doggy costume parade, a pop-up pooch park, and activities and treats for pups and their people. Even if you’re in town without your furry pal, you can still shop the Barket Market for unique gifts and enjoy all the tail-wagging fun.


Photo: Alamy

Polar Bear Plunge

Kick off 2017 with a splash! Join nearly 2,000 brave participants as they take a daring dip into the waters off Matthews Beach during the 15th annual Polar Bear Plunge. Registration begins at 10am with games, music, and warm refreshments, followed by the main plunge at noon. Dive neck deep into the frigid waters to claim a Commemorative Badge of Courage and major bragging rights. Ringing in the new year as a family? Younger participants can take a dip during the Polar Cub Club immediately preceding the main plunge. And, yes, parents—if you’re feeling particularly hearty, you’re allowed to double dip.



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